New owners of Butley’s Oyster Inn seek to revive the much-loved pub
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
A Suffolk village is celebrating after its historic pub was taken on by new owners seeking to revive its role at “the heart of the community”.
Judi and Andrew Newman recently bought the much-loved Oyster Inn in Butley, nearly four years after some feared last orders had been called for the final time.
Villagers feared its possible closure and opposed plans to convert part of the site into holiday accommodation, which they feared would bring about the pub’s demise.
Mrs Newman, who used to live in nearby Tunstall, said the plan was to resurrect the 18th Century inn as a traditional village pub, just as the community wanted.
“We were aware of how long it had been closed and thought it was something of a tragedy, because it was such an iconic and much-loved pub,” she added.
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“It was so sad to see it just sat there being neglected and so we decided to get involved.”
The pub has been gutted inside and requires a complete refurbishment, which is expected to take the rest of the year. Once reopened, it is hoped to be popular with cyclists, holidaymakers and hunt enthusiasts, as it was before.
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Longer-term, Mrs Newman says there may be possibilities to set up a village shop or create a campsite in the neighbouring field.
“These rural assets need to be used as creatively as possible,” she added. “So for us it’s about supporting the rural economy, getting the heart back into the village and then looking at what else we can do with it.”
Neither Mrs Newman, nor her husband, have pub experience, and have enlisted live-in landlords to take on the day to day running.
Rob and Tracy Butcher, who have been on site this week making a start on the refurbishment, said people in the village had been excited to hear of the plans, with many offering to help out.
Mr Butcher said: “They are very keen to see it reopened as a traditional pub and we are just really pleased to be involved.
“We used to drive past it every weekend and say what a beautiful little pub it could be, if only it had the chance. Then Judi and Andrew said they were looking for someone to run the pub and as soon as we got here we fell in love with the place.”
Butley’s parish chairman David McGinity, said it was “fantastic news”, and praised the owners for their engaging attitude.